When traveling in Mendocino and Humboldt Counties of California, there is only one radio station that comes in, KMUD Community Radio. What a great radio station it is! They play such a variety of music, from Hawaiian to Honky Tonk. We have had the pleasure of listening to the show, “Thank Ja it’s Friday” and our catching up on the daily news with “Democracy Now.” When we heard they were doing a pledge drive we immediately called to contribute to a station that keeps us cruising on the road with a smile on our faces. After all, they survive on donations from their listeners.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Kerry from KMUD and he directed us to volunteering opportunities for the Thanksgiving holiday. This being our first holiday away from relatives, we wanted to spend it putting smiles on faces of those around us. He suggested Redway, California’s Healy Senior Center. We touched based with the up-beat director, Melissa. She invited us to help serve a family style meal to approximately 30 older adults the day before Thanksgiving.
We arrived at the center 100 miles away and were warmly welcomed by Melissa and her volunteer staff. The center runs solely on the graciousness of their volunteers. They serve the elder population with meals made by the fantastic kitchen duo of Lani and Jeff. All their food is homemade and prepared Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays. They offer “Meals On Wheels” as well and packaged meals to feed individuals throughout the week. The center is not government operated so they have flexibility in what they do but they have to raise all of their own funds.
On this particular day, they had 20 meals to prepare followed by a Thanksgiving family-style feast for 32 people. All the food was supplied by the center, minus the bread for the stuffing which was donated. They have suggested donations for each meal, but invite everyone to attend regardless of what you can contribute. We set up the dining room table and chatted with the guests.
We even had a admirer who got Mel a cup of milk and offered one to me, but when I turned it down he said “Rejection: story of my life!” We learned about the area, where they were from and were able to share our adventures, too. When it was time to serve the meal, Melissa gave a speech about what she was thankful for and asked everyone to share with those around her what they were thankful for this year as well. This is a simple tradition that we have with our families and think it is important to keep it present in our daily lives.
We are thankful for everyone here who was so kind and being it is Humboldt County they were quite eccentric, too! We were lucky enough to meet everyone, serve a delicious homemade meal, and share with them our gratitude this holiday season. We sat and ate dinner with them after we served.
Although it was a mere 4 hours spent there we left feeling like family. Melissa gave us a shout out as we left and everyone gave us a round of applause, but deep in our hearts they are the ones we want to thank. It made us feel at home when we are hundreds of miles from there.
We ended the day with a brief stop at KMUD radio.
They invited us in for a tour and introduced us to those in the station. It was fun to put a face to those we hear on the radio and to see where all the magic happens. One thing we have learned time and again this year, going the extra mile is pretty much always worth it.